Updated October 2018
Talk to anyone not from Buffalo about Buffalo and it’s highly likely they’ll reference our city’s affinity for snow. As if it’s all shoveling and snow blowers and snow angels all the time.
In reality, the idea that it’s always cold in Buffalo is far from true. Just days into the fall season, there’s no reason to break out the heavy sweaters and long johns. So we’ve partnered up with Expedia.com to come up with a list of 10 outdoor activities to do in Western New York before the cold temps arrive.
Hike Through Falling Leaves
There are countless places for great walks and hikes in and around Buffalo. The Olmsted City Parks are great spots to get outside within city limits. Or, take the famous trail to the Eternal Flame at Chestnut Ridge. These are can’t miss great places to get out.
However, lesser-known trails are equally well worth exploring like Sprague Brook County Park, which is truly a hidden gem. Full of hiking and biking trails of all different lengths, Sprague Brooke lets visitors experience all different types of foliage, animals, birds, and deer – lots of deer. There’s campsites, too, if you’re interested in bringing a tent, sleeping bags and falling asleep under the fall stars. One other awesome trail in the area is the Gorge Trail at Letchworth State Park – it’s a 9 mile trek open to hikers, horseback riders and bikers that takes visitors by three major waterfalls. The highest – Middle Waterfall – is 107 feet high and located near a superb picnic spot to enjoy the views.
Lace up Your Racing Shoes
There’s never a bad time to sign up for a race and challenge yourself, friends, or fitness level. The HeartRateUp team does a great job designing fun trail run races all year long and runners should definitely check out The Dominator Cross Country Race in the Park. A modified steeplechase race, The Dominator pushes runners to race 2 or 4 miles through trees, gravel paths, stone staircases and hurdles on Delaware Park’s Cyclocross Course. Also, BuffaloRunners has an always up-to-date calendar of every local race – 5K to Marathons and more – and there’s a good one essentially every week. Sign up, lace up and race!
Prefer pedaling to running? Holiday Valley has their Annual Fall Festival Mountain Bike Race, which is a fun race on a great 4.7 mile course featuring first-class single-track, climbs, downhill sections and everything else bikers love.
Tee it Up
Autumn golf in Buffalo is seriously underrated. Yes, the mornings may be a bit cooler and the days a bit shorter, but across the region great golf courses are immersed in beautiful fall foliage, harder fairways (longer drives), and fewer crowds. Play regularly and looking for a new challenge? Check out Harvest Hill Golf Course in Orchard Park (3052 Transit Road, Orchard Park, NY 14127) – it’s a phenomenal 18-hole course with all levels of tees, a driving range, 3-hole family course, and the best short-game practice area in the region. Other great options include Sheridan Park Course in Tonawanda, one of the best public courses in the area, or Diamond Hawk Golf Course – a tough, narrow test of golf located right near the Buffalo airport.
Grab a Paddle!
One of the best ways to see the city these days is by kayak. There are now several different options for kayak rentals, stand up paddle board rentals, and tours daily in Buffalo. Once you paddle away from the city’s inner harbor, you’ll be treated to peaceful exploration of Silo City, views of the city skyline, Buffalo’s waterfront and more. If you get thirsty during your journey, paddle toward Liberty Hound for a quick beer. Not to mention, there are few more incredible ways to watch the sun rise or set than from atop the water.
Walk with Wildlife – Enjoy a Buffalo Zoo Experience
Located in Delaware Park in the heart of the city, the Buffalo Zoo (300 Parkside Ave) is a remarkable place. Walk down Parkside Ave toward the entrance and you can enjoy city streets and giraffes in the same instant. Inside the zoo, you’ll have the chance to see polar bears, seals, bighorn sheep, scores of birds, reptiles, and more.
It’s a fantastic place to take the family and the Zoo has fun events all year long. On Nov. 15, Nature Play Adventure will offer families the chance to take part in a scavenger hunt and zoo keeper talks. A week earlier, Trick or Treat Weekend at the Zoo will feature face painting, hayrides, costumed characters, and special learning opportunities.
Relax in the Botanical Gardens
One of the prettiest places in Buffalo is it’s serene Botanical Gardens (2655 South Park Ave). An indoor/outdoor nature experience, the Botanical Gardens currently offers a Fruit and Nut Collection that focuses on all the plants that bring us cashews, lychee fruits, dragon fruits, and more. The Tropical Collection features marvelous, colorful flowers to enjoy. Other features include a Peace Garden, Healing Garden, Panama Cloud Forest, and a special area for the Florida Everglades.
Go, Just Go To Canalside.
If anybody’s ever silly enough to suggest there’s nothing going on in Buffalo – just take them to Canalside. One of the most rejuvenating elements of Buffalo’s downtown resurgence has been the development and success of Canalside. Their calendar of events is full – literally full – of fun things to do every day. Check it out here!
If you’ve never been or you’ve visited Canalside a dozen times, get back there this fall for one of these exciting events.
Drink Some Beer. Drink some good fall beer.
I’m not sure there’s ever a bad season in which to drink beer, but fall is definitely one of the better ones for it. Need a good reason to spend an afternoon tasting some of the best craft beer from breweries in Buffalo and WNY… check out our full guide to drinking local.
Take a Pedal-Powered Trolley through the City
Looking for a new way to experience the city with your friends or family? Check out Buffalo Pedal Tours or the Craft Cruiser which both offer pedal powered trolleys that take groups of 8-15 across the city and some suburban villages. Every person sits facing the group and pedals to keep the trolley moving. Lots of groups will use the pedal trolleys for pub crawls, architectural tours, or bachelor/bachelorette parties – but generally they are up up for any theme or type of event you have in mind. It’s a great way to get out, get exercise, spend time with friends, and wind your way up and down Buffalo’s famous streets. The trolleys even come equipped with non-pedal seating if you have one or two people that want to join but don’t feel like pedaling along with the group. Honestly, it’s never too cold for this activity but snow can put a damper on it. So hop to it before it’s too late, friends!
Embrace Fall. Head to Pumpkinville.
4844 Sugartown Road, Great Valley NY 14741
Getting outdoors before the snow flies doesn’t mean pretending it’s summer – it can also be about embracing fall. There’s no better place for folks and families to do so than at Pumpkinville, a 200-acre pumpkin farm just a bit south of the city. Admission and parking are always free at Pumpkinville and they have a ton to do including pumpkin races, farm animal meet-and-greets, a six-acre corn maze, hayrides, spooky houses, farm pedal carts, and more. Not to mention, Pumpkinville is an awesome spot to pick up all your pumpkins, gourds, and more for the fall season all while enjoying delicious fall-themed treats.
Enjoy Festival Experiences.
Across the city, there are still numerous festivals set to take place in the fall months. For example, Allentown Fall Festival is a free day-long event with music, artists, delicious food, beer and children’s activities that all celebrate fall and the city. Another great choice would be the Niagara Apple Fest in Lockport which is all about apples – eating them, baking them, growing them and more. And of course, beer lovers have their fair share of Oktoberfests. Check out our full list of the best things happening this week here!